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Glaucoma, silent thief of sight

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that can lead to vision loss and blindness. It is often referred to as the "silent thief of sight" because it often has no symptoms in its early stages, which is why regular eye exams are important to catch it early and begin treatment. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve, which carries visual information from the eye to the brain. This damage is usually due to increased pressure within the eye, which can be caused by various factors such as blockages in the eye's drainage system or thinning of the optic nerve tissue. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide and is especially common in older adults.

One of the primary ways that glaucoma affects vision is through the loss of visual field, or the area that a person can see while looking straight ahead. This loss of visual field can be measured using a test called the Humphrey Field Test (HFT). The HFT is a type of static perimetry test that uses luminance thresholds to measure sensitivity in different areas of the visual field. It is performed on a device such as the HFA (Humphrey Field Analyzer) and involves the patient looking at a central fixation point while various stimuli are presented in different parts of the visual field. The patient indicates when they see each stimulus by pressing a button, and the luminance thresholds for each area of the visual field are then calculated based on the results.

There are two main ways to analyze the results of the HFT: cluster techniques and principal components. Cluster techniques involve grouping together areas of the visual field that have similar levels of sensitivity, while principal components analysis involves identifying patterns in the data that can help to understand the underlying causes of the visual field loss.

For example, consider a person with glaucoma who has undergone the HFT. Using cluster techniques, the test results may show that the person has a large area of reduced sensitivity in the upper left quadrant of their visual field. On the other hand, principal components analysis may reveal that the visual field loss is primarily caused by damage to the optic nerve.

Glaucoma can be treated with medications, laser procedures, or surgery to lower the pressure within the eye and prevent further damage to the optic nerve. However, once vision is lost due to glaucoma, it cannot be regained. Risk factors for glaucoma include high intraocular pressure, a family history of the disease, being African American or Hispanic, being over the age of 60, and having certain medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. It is important for individuals at high risk for glaucoma to have regular eye exams to monitor for the development of the condition.

Overall, the HFT is a valuable tool for assessing and monitoring the visual field loss associated with glaucoma. By using both cluster techniques and principal components analysis, eye care professionals can get a more complete understanding of a person's visual field and how it is affected by glaucoma, helping to guide treatment decisions and potentially slowing the progression of the disease. It is worth mentioning that we are currently involved in an ongoing scientific clinical study examining the relationship between the HFA (Humphrey Field Analyzer) and the thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) in Latin populations. This research is important as the RNFL is an important indicator of glaucoma severity and can be used to guide treatment decisions. In addition to this study, we are also exploring other research lines related to glaucoma in Latin populations, including identifying genetic and environmental risk factors for the development and progression of the disease, as well as developing more effective treatments and preventative measures.

Emiliano Teran

To know more about this topic:

Elze, T., Pasquale, L. R., Shen, L. Q., Chen, T. C., Wiggs, J. L., & Bex, P. J. (2015). Patterns of functional vision loss in glaucoma determined with archetypal analysis. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 12(103), 20141118.


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